When the idea of the Dubai Metro was first launched, the RTA came up with the idea to offer out to tender the naming rights for any of the Metro stations. This basically meant that if a company stumped up enough cash they would be able to call the metro station of their choosing by whatever name they liked (although I’m sure there were restrictions on the names that were chosen and that they were vetted by senior officials before just anything was allowed!).
In the early days quite a few companies investigated this possibility which seemed to come at quite a high cost, and deals were made on a number of the Dubai Metro stations like Nakheel and Emirates, two big names in Dubai. However, some of the more obvious stations were not named as people thought they should be. The most prominent of these was Khalid bi al Waleed station which essentially was at Burjuman mall. But it was rumoured that Burjuman did not want (or could not afford) the large fees that the RTA were charging for the naming rights. So at the time that the first tranche of stations opened in 2009, the name Burjuman Station was nowhere to be seen.
It may well be that some companies did not purchase the naming rights due to the fact that this was close to the point where the global financial crisis had hit Dubai and many companies were struggling. There could be little justification in paying out large sums of money for something that, although would spread the brand name, would not bring in any extra income. Marketing budgets had been cut and this was one thing that was likely to be hit.
The RTA never divulged how much companies had paid for the naming rights to the stations but it was thought that the numbers were large and the fact that they did not divulge the information seemed to confirm that.
Fast forward 3 years after the Metro opened and companies now have a clearer idea of their financial positions. So we now have two new station names. The first is the station I was referring to earlier, which finally has it’s appropriate name (albeit that Khalid bin al Waleed is a reasonably well known street but this is not a great name to get tourists, shoppers and other visitors to your mall), and will be renamed Burjuman Station. OK, so that helps us when we are travelling on the Metro to know where we are going!
The second name change, however, is one of those station names that makes you think – “Ok, so where on earth might that be located?”. This is a bugbear among travellers, in particular those who may not use the metro that often, as the new name of Jebel Ali Station is Danube Station – removing any indication of where that might be in Dubai.
The naming of the stations definitely puts money over common sense and consideration for travellers – but I guess the RTA have to recover as much in the way of costs as they can and this is one way of doing it.
So, do you agree that companies should be able to buy up the names of stations and call them what they like? I would be interested to hear your opinions below!